Harvey Weinstein's lawyers rest their case, say producer won't testify

Weinstein arrives at court in New York City, Feb 11, 2020.
Weinstein arrives at court in New York City, Feb 11, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Harvey Weinstein's lawyers rested their case at the producer's sexual assault trial and told the court their client would not take the stand.

One of Weinstein's lawyers said in New York state court on Tuesday (Feb 11) that the fallen Hollywood power broker would not testify because prosecutors had not met their burden of proof in supporting the charges of rape and predatory sexual assault against him.

Weinstein's defence team had ended its case by calling to the stand a friend of one of the producer's key accusers at the time of her alleged assault, Jessica Mann.

The friend, Tommy Richards Lozano, testified that he did not notice anything unsual in Mann's behaviour or demeanour on the day she alleges Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel in March 2013.

At about 10.45am on Tuesday, New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke excused the jury of seven men and five women and allowed Weinstein to confer with his lawyers in an adjacent defence room about whether he would testify.

When they returned, at about 11.20am, defence attorney Damon Cheronis told Burke the defence would rest and not call his client.

"Mr Weinstein, is that accurate?" Burke asked.

"Yes, that's accurate," Weinstein said.

Weinstein, 67, is charged with assaulting two women - Mann in 2013 and Miriam Haley (formerly Haleyi) in 2006.

Weinstein maintains that all the sexual encounters were consensual and mutually beneficial as the young women pursued their careers.

The trial, which began last month in lower Manhattan, has riveted the nation and served as a focal point for the #MeToo movement.

 
 
 

Burke told the jurors that they should expect to hear closing arguments from defence lawyer Donna Rotunno and then from prosecutor Joan Illuzzi at the end of the week and that he would give them instructions on the law on Tuesday.

The court is closed on Wednesday for Lincoln's Birthday.

The trial has moved faster than expected. During jury selection, Burke had told potential jurors it could run into March.

"So that's the plan," he said. "Do not come in tomorrow, because it's a court holiday."

Burke warned the panel, as he does at the end of every day, not to read about the case or to research it from sources outside the courtroom.